Should Startup Founders focus on one idea or many ideas?

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Startup founders usually have a good idea about the kind of business they want to build. They want to build it, and then grow it and scale it. But how many ideas should they pursue at the same time?

I’ve seen other startups do both things. Some have pursued one idea and built their company around that. Others have researched multiple ideas at the same time.

When you’re a startup founder, you have to spend most of your time and energy on ideas that will lead to customers. The first step in product development is to get feedback from your target customers.

Therefore, the questions you need to ask yourself are:

How many ideas do I have? Do I have enough time and resources to pursue all of them?
Are the ideas feasible enough (e.g. Have I researched them thoroughly enough?)
Do my team and investors agree on pursuing multiple ideas?
If they do, how will I split my resources among them?
How will I determine which idea is more promising than the others?
Which one should get more attention and focus?
Will we be able to pivot easily if we find out that one of the ideas is not working as expected?
Will we be able to adjust our resources accordingly?
What are the chances that investors would fund us for multiple products at the same time?
Or should we focus on one product first and if it works, then go ahead with another idea?
If we decide to pursue multiple ideas, how soon can we start building them and launch them?
If our existing product is doing well, would it make sense to invest in another product beside it (e.g. marketing a new product alongside an existing one)?
How soon can we start selling this other idea or product (if it’s a service)?
Or if it’s a physical product, how soon can it be made available for sale (manufacturing)?
Can our team handle both products at once or will more people be needed for each project (e.g new designers for each project)?
What are the chances that this new idea might cannibalize our existing business or market share because they are addressing similar needs?
What are the chances that the new idea will boost our current business and not cannibalize it?
Do we need more resources for this new product or will our existing team be able to handle that?
What is the risk of launching a product too early, before it’s tested enough?
Have I done enough in-market testing? Do we know how customers use this product/service?
Is it easy to use? Do they know how to use it?
What is the risk of launching a product too late and missing the market opportunity?
How will we know when that happens?
Do we have enough resources to cover both ideas at once (e.g. different team members for each idea) or should we focus on one idea first?
Will this idea require additional resources (e.g. hiring and training)?
If yes, what are the chances that I will be able to hire and train those people within our budget and timeline?
How soon can we start selling this other idea or product (if it’s a service)?
Or if it’s a physical product, how soon can it be made available for sale (manufacturing)?
Do I have enough time and resources to pursue all of them?
Is there a risk that I might burn out if I continue pursuing multiple ideas at a time?

Every business idea has different potentials

Some might be very promising while others might not be that good.

The problem is, we don’t know which idea will work until we’ve tested it in the market. Therefore, we can’t focus on multiple ideas at once. We have to choose one first and then test it in the market and based on those results decide whether to continue with other ideas or not.

Therefore, most startups should either:
1) Focus on one idea until they get feedback from customers and then go ahead with other ideas or
2) Focus on multiple ideas at the same time but do this in batches (e.g pursue two ideas for a couple of months and then launch the first one — if it works — and go back to pursuing another two ideas after that).

I generally don’t recommend chasing multiple ideas at the same time and launching them all at once. The reason is that if one of them fails, you’ve wasted a lot of money and resources on it. And you might feel disappointed and demotivated, or even depressed.

If you pursue multiple ideas, then focus on the one that you think will work best. You can give other ideas more attention later once you know that this idea works.

I write this from my own experience building Cudy Technologies(www.cudy.co) for the past 2 years and as the only Founder now, it is more important than ever to prioritise what I am focusing on at any point of time as the opportunity costs are much greater being the only Founder. My advice — time is precious — think before taking the plunge.

About the Author

I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.

You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.

Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and investor.